NY Jets: Predicting the final 53-man roster and 16-player practice squad
We predict the NY Jets’ final roster and practice squad with less than two weeks until Week 1.
The NY Jets appear to be a product of the times we are living. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming NFL season. The same thing holds for the state of the Jets roster.
The pandemic has impacted every team in the NFL this summer beyond navigating through the uncharted territory of frequent testing and strict distancing guidelines.
Practices were limited. Team rosters were reduced from 90 to 80. Gone were all the preseason games — a first in the history of the league.
For the Jets’ part, they have had to move forward without their best player from a year ago in Jamal Adams. C.J. Mosley’s redemption story was not to be as he decided to opt-out of this season.
The team has an entirely new offensive line, and with each new day that has passed, it seems as if another wide receiver has gone down to injury.
The Jets roster may have to be written in pencil with an asterisk that says *subject to change*. The Jets’ initial 53-man roster may ultimately be temporary. General manager Joe Douglas may be scouring the waiver wire looking for last second solutions to heal what ails the team.
It’s worth noting that gameday rosters can expand to 55. The practice squad has grown to 16 players with restrictions lifted on the number of veteran players allowed on the practice squad. It gives teams like the Jets flexibility to stash players who wouldn’t have been eligible otherwise.
For now, let’s project who the Jets 53-man roster will be and its 16-player practice squad. The latter takes on more importance than it has in years past due to the uncertainty of how the pandemic could effect weekly rosters.
Next: 1. Quarterbacks and running backs
NY Jets’ quarterbacks
- Sam Darnold, James Morgan, Joe Flacco (3)
The end-all, be-all of the entire Jets season is Sam Darnold. Almost as vital as the Jets win-loss record in 2020 is the health and evolution of Darnold. Nothing else matters more.
Keeping only two active quarterbacks on the roster to start the season may seem risky, but in reality, it’s necessary considering the Jets injury issues at running back and wide receiver.
Joe Flacco will eventually be ready to go as veteran insurance for Darnold. A stint on a long-term PUP doesn’t appear to be in the cards.
Rolling the dice with James Morgan behind Darnold is risky, considering Morgan’s lack of experience. Still, hopefully, the Jets don’t run into the early season issues that they had last season with Darnold.
Because of the new practice squad rules, which allow a certain number of veterans eligibility regardless of experience, the Jets can better cover themselves in case of catastrophe.
David Fales is a candidate to occupy one of those practice squad spots. He has familiarity with Adam Gase’s scheme and would be in case of emergency break glass option. Mike White is also a candidate for such a role.
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NY Jets’ running backs
- LeVeon Bell, Frank Gore, La’Mical Perine, Josh Adams (4)
All signs were pointing to a resurgence by Le’Veon Bell and a return to his former glory. That’s up until the recent issues that manifested between Adam Gase and Bell over the former All-Pro’s explained absence from practice.
Excluding the recent drama. Bell has looked terrific this summer and appears ready to redeem himself after a lackluster 2019 campaign.
The Jets have done everything possible to strengthen the depth behind him. Adam Gase’s soldier Frank Gore is in tow and battle-tested and ready to continue to defy father time.
La’Mical Perine suffered a scare this past weekend. He sprained his ankle, but he appears to have dodged a bullet and isn’t expected to miss significant time.
Josh Adams might make the roster as early-season insurance if Perine isn’t ready to go by Week 1, but his stay on the active roster may not be a permanent one. The Jets are still in the market for running back depth, as evidenced by their recent voided trade for Kalen Ballage.
Next: 2. Wide receivers
NY Jets’ wide receivers
- Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, Chris Hogan, Braxton Berrios, Vyncint Smith (6)
Considering the Jets fortunes this summer at the receiver position, the best thing that can happen for New York is for the season to start. Four more weeks of camp may have produced four more new injuries.
The Jets need Perriman and Mims healthy. Their absence has been a hindrance to Sam Darnold and them. The duo of new receivers needed the time to develop chemistry with their signal-caller. It will now have to come during the season.
Jamison Crowder is the teams’ best and most reliable receiver. Chris Hogan has similar traits, and his last-second inclusion may have been a blessing in disguise. Berrios provides some of the same qualities that Crowder and Hogan possess.
The issue for the Jets is on the outside. Vyncint Smith’s injury was bad timing as he was finally getting an opportunity to prove himself. Smith injured his core muscle and had surgery two weeks ago. He should return, but it’s unlikely that he will be available by Week 1 against Buffalo.
The other Smith, Jeff, a former QB at Boston College, was showing signs of growth as well before getting injured. He could be a candidate for the practice squad.
Veteran Donte Moncrief may end up making the roster by default, but his stay could be short-lived. That’s if the Jets finally get healthy at the position.
Next: 3. Tight ends and offensive linemen
NY Jets’ tight ends
- Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco, Daniel Brown (4)
The Jets need Chris Herndon now more than ever. He’s a sight for the Jets fans and Darnold’s sore eyes. Ryan Griffin was coming off a career year in 2019 and he’s on track for Week 1. With the Jets issues at wide receiver, he will be needed.
Trevon Wesco is the team’s de facto fullback and best blocker. Daniel Brown provides some of the same qualities that Wesco does, but his forte is contributing on special teams. He might not make the active roster despite the durability issues of Herndon and Griffin.
NY Jets’ offensive linemen
- Mekhi Becton, George Fant, Alex Lewis, Greg Van Roten, Connor McGovern, Cameron Clark, Chuma Edoga, Jonotthan Harrison (8)
Mekhi Becton has been as advertised. The argument can be made that he is the second most important player on the entire roster. The Jets’ rushing and passing attack hinge on him being a dominant force.
Connor McGovern is also vital to the team’s success. An ordinary camp complete with a full preseason slate would have benefitted McGovern in getting the entire unit working as one.
Lewis, Fant, and Van Roten round out the starting lineup. The sooner the Jets revamped line develops chemistry, the better. Cameron Clark has significant upside and could push for starting time down the line, but for now, he’s the team’s swing linemen.
Harrison provides the Jets with a versatile veteran backup on the interior. Chuma Edoga is no lock to make this roster. Joe Douglas inherited him from the previous regime.
Next: 4. Defensive linemen and linebackers
NY Jets’ defensive linemen
- Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon, Henry Anderson, Kyle Phillips, Folorunso Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, Jabari Zuniga (7)
An unheralded group and arguably the Jets’ best overall unit, the key will be the ascension of Quinnen Williams. If he taps into his enormous potential, the Jets are going to be excellent up front.
Steve McLendon and Henry Anderson are two reliable veterans on the line. Their leadership will come in handy with this young group. Phillips, Foley, and Shepherd are three emerging young talents.
The wildcard up front for the Jets is Jabari Zuniga. On paper, Zuniga could be the unit’s most versatile player. Zuniga possesses the ability to rush the passer on the inside and outside.
NY Jets’ linebackers
- Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham, Frankie Luvu, Harvey Langi, Blake Cashman, Avery Williamson, Patrick Onwuasor, Neville Hewitt (8)
Jordan Jenkins is the Jets’ best outside pass rusher. Basham, Luvu, and Langi are decent rotational players, but the Jets’ lack of a dynamic speed rusher to complement Jenkins is a prolonged standing weakness for the franchise.
C.J. Mosley’s opt-out hurt, but you can’t miss what you never had. Fortunately for the Jets, the team has excellent depth on the inside at linebacker.
Blake Cashman, Patrick Onwuasor, Avery Williamson, and Neville Hewitt are all capable of providing value. Cashman has star potential if he can stay healthy. The Jets also love the special teams’ versatility of this unit.
Next: 5. Cornerbacks and safeties
NY Jets’ cornerbacks
- Pierre Desir, Brian Poole, Blessuan Austin, Quincy Wilson, Arthur Maulet, Bryce Hall (6)
Outside of wide receiver, this is an area where the Jets are in desperate need of elite talent. The health of Desir and Poole is vital to the defense’s success.
Bryce Hall’s absence during a large portion of the summer, due to being on the COVID list, hindered his development, but before long, he may be needed to ascend the depth chart.
NY Jets’ safeties
- Marcus Maye, Bradley McDougald, Ashtyn Davis, Matthias Farley (4)
The president got himself impeached, but what’s left is a pretty strong group. Marcus Maye is in prime position to break out and take the next step in Gregg Williams’s defense. McDougald was a wise pickup by Douglas in the Adams trade.
The player to watch is rookie Ashtyn Davis. He has a dynamic skill set and figures to be utilized in a variety of ways. Farley provides toughness and good special teams value.
The Jets could use more insurance at the position considering Maye’s durability issues in the past.
Next: 6. Specialists and practice squad
NY Jets’ specialists
- Kicker: Sam Ficken
- Punter: Braden Mann
- Long Snapper: Thomas Hennessy (3)
Two out of three ain’t bad.
Perhaps, that’s a bit of a rough take on the Jets’ kicker Sam Ficken. He was fine last season, patching up what was a disaster spot for the team early on. However, any hiccups by Ficken during the season may expedite his exit from the roster.
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NY Jets’ practice squad
- QB David Fales, QB Mike White, WR Jeff Smith, WR Lawrence Cager, WR D.J. Montgomery, OL Josh Andrews, OL Conor McDermott, DL Jordan Willis, DL John Franklin-Myers, DL/FB/TE Bronson Kaufusi, LB James Burgess, LB Bryce Huff, CB Nate Hairston, DB Bennett Jackson, CB Javelin Guidry, CB Zane Lewis (16)
All 32 NFL teams can carry 16 players on their practice squads. The major change includes the capability of carrying six veteran players.
As a result, experienced players across the league may end up on practice squads this upcoming season. Teams are also allowed to protect four players on the squad every Tuesday. A team like the Jets can block anyone who attempts to poach their players.
If you are a Jets player on the fringe of making the roster, hold on tight. The bottom end of New York’s roster figures to have multiple changes leading into Week 1.
On the flip side, For practice squad players, because of injuries and the uncertainties tied to the pandemic, you are inches away from being on the active roster at any moment.
The New York Jets have the look of a team that is not ready to contend yet. The impending roster shuffle on the back end of the franchise’s roster is an indicator of that.
Instead of being prepared to go to war with they have, it’s all about what they don’t have. For all the work that Joe Douglas and his staff have done this past offseason.
The fact that the team still needs retooling at several vital spots shows how far the Jets are from being viable contenders.